Presented by Yi-Kai Tea

University of Sydney, School of Life and Environmental Sciences; 2019-20 AMF/AMRI Postgraduate Award recipient, Ichthyology Australian Museum Research Institute.

The fairy wrasses (genus Cirrhilabrus) are among the most captivating and successful of the extant wrasse lineages (Teleostei: Labridae), with their 61 species accounting for nearly 10% of the family. Understanding the reasons for this success has however been hindered by the poor phylogenetic resolution of the genus. Although species complexes within the genus have been diagnosed on the basis of coloration patterns and synapomorphies, previous attempts to resolve the evolutionary relationships using molecular and morphological data have largely been unsuccessful.

Join Yi-Kai Tea, recipient of the 2019-20 AMF/AMRI Postgraduate Award recipient, in this month’s online seminar where he will be discussing his recent research: Phylogenomic Analysis of Ultraconserved Elements Reveals the Recent Evolutionary Radiation of the Wrasse Genus Cirrhilabrus. In this recent study, Yi-Kai Tea, with Xin Xu, Joseph D. DiBattista, Nathan Lo, Peter F. Cowman, and Simon Ho, used a phylogenomic approach comprising 991 ultraconserved elements (UCEs) and mitochondrial COI to uncover the evolutionary history and patterns of temporal and spatial diversification of the fairy wrasses.

Overall, this study demonstrates the resolving power of UCEs across shallow timescales, in a phylogenetically recalcitrant taxonomic group characterized by few robust morphological characters and where previous molecular studies have been unsuccessful.